City Desk

Do Fenty’s Poll Numbers Matter?: Loose Lips Daily

As much local politics as humanly possible. Send your tips, releases, stories, events, etc. to lips@washingtoncitypaper.com. And get LL Daily sent straight to your inbox every morning!

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT—'More Troubling Poll Numbers for Fenty'; 'Marion Barry Drops Barnyard Epithet on Dais'; 'D.C. Moves to Retake Control of School Buses by July'; 'Fenty Names New Interim Head of Parks and Rec'; tweets galore!

Morning all. Yet another poll, this one paid for by local labor types, shows that Mayor Adrian M. Fenty has alienated large swaths of the city, LL reported last night. And yet Jonetta Rose Barras makes a compelling case as to why that poll and others like it don't mean as much as you might think (or hope). Just look at Fenty's predecessor: 'Remember former Mayor Anthony A. Williams, affectionately called by some "a bow-tie-wearing-numbers-crunching technocrat." Although the first politician in the city's history actually to be drafted, many residents didn't love him....Style is killing Fenty's popularity the same way it eroded his predecessor's. Williams was called aloof and remote. Fenty has been called arrogant and cold.' Barras goes on to set up a divide between the 'touchy-feely' politicians of Vincent Gray's ilk and Fenty- and Williams-style 'technocrats and tacticians, more interested in measured outcomes than coffee klatches.' The latter style has won out in every mayoral race since 1998, Barras notes; voters 'could change course in 2010. But what are the odds of that?'

AFTER THE JUMP—Another parks contracting hearing; Jannarone, Glover, Ray show, but Karim and Regan do not; Fenty OKs procurement end-arounds; WaTimes metro coverage may soon cease; the long history of big-shot NIMBYism; senator's daughter carjacked in Penn Quarter

More on Fenty's interim pick to run the city parks department: Jesús Aguirre's appointment, Nikita Stewart notes in WaPo, 'ends one of several feuds between the council and Fenty over what council members see as the mayor's ongoing lack of respect for their authority.' Still, he 'faces a shrinking recreation budget and controversy over the administration's routing of $86 million to the D.C. Housing Authority for construction of more than a dozen recreational facilities.' His council-ousted predecessor, Ximena Hartsock, 'conducted exit interviews with council members Tuesday' before moving to her new slot as an OCA analyst. Says Aguirre: 'Obviously, the additional scrutiny is going to add some pressure.' Also AP, DCist.

ALSO—His wife, Monica Aguirre, is principal of Oyster-Adams Bilingual School—home to the children of top schools officials Michelle Rhee and Victor Reinoso.

A fourth—yes, fourth—parks contracting hearing was gaveled to order yesterday afternoon, with star DMPED witnesses David Jannarone and Jacquelyn Glover appearing before councilmembers; LL tweeted much of it. What the inquiry produced were a lot of pledges to 'move this forward,' but a lot of lingering questions over the timing and handling of the Banneker Ventures project-management contract. Fenty administration honchos promised to have the contract to the council for ratification by next Friday, and Jannarone added political pressure when he told councilmembers yesterday that work on at least one pet parks project will stop in January due to council meddling. Also testifying was ex-DPR chief and current council candidate Clark Ray, who said that he agreed to send tens of millions in parks capital dollars out to DMPED but says he had no idea the dollars would then be sent to DCHA, thus avoiding council oversight. Question is, why send the dollars out at all after fully staffing your capital projects office? And WaPo's Stewart notes this fishy detail: That the Banneker contract 'was signed in July, although several invoices for the company date back to May. Jannarone said the "effective date" of the contract was May 1.' Michael Neibauer reports in Examiner on legislative efforts to get Banneker's absentee Omar Karim et al. to comply with council subpoenas. WTTG-TV's Karen Gray Houston notes the no-show. And Tom Sherwood covers the whole saga for WRC-TV. In other news, Marion Barry couldn't watch his language.

ALSO—Neibauer buried his lede: Under a Fenty executive order issued Friday, he reports, department heads 'are authorized to strike deals with any other department "for materials, supplies, equipment, work, or services of any kind." The order enables agency chiefs to avoid the "administrative burden" that is the procurement office, said Sean Madigan, a Fenty spokesman. It was "just a coincidence," he said, and not related to the DPR controversy.' It happens to be a coincidence that essentially renders city procurement practices meaningless—any.agency head now has carte blanche to eschew the Office of Contracting and Procurement and send city funding through faster but less vigorously vetted avenues.

Sadly, LL may soon have one fewer news outlet to aggregate: The Washington Times announced yesterday that it plans to slash 40 percent of its workforce and retrench, focusing on 'core strengths' of 'exclusive reporting and in-depth national political coverage, enterprise and investigative reporting, geo-strategic and national security news and cultural coverage based on traditional values.' Howard Kurtz notes in WaPo: 'That means the Times will end its run as a full-service newspaper, slashing its coverage of local news, sports and features.' Kurtz also notes that the paper plans to pursue an Examiner-style business model, 'to be distributed free "in select areas"...particularly at federal government offices and other key institutions.' LL notes that this move comes only months after WaTimes seemed to make a new commitment to local news in the District, with the recent hires of Jeffrey Anderson and David C. Lipscomb. Thoughts are with them both, as well as editor Matt Cella, sports biz reporter Tim Lemke, and others who have done a damn fine job covering city issues over the years.

All this means: WaTimes' future engagement with local Washington may soon be limited to right-wing opinionmongering, like this editorial today on vouchers: 'It is disgraceful the way Education Secretary Arne Duncan dodges and weaves while back-stabbing some 1,700 D.C. schoolchildren whose hopes and dreams are set on the District's school voucher program. Taking a position of moral and political cowardice, the Obama administration refuses to intervene to save the hugely popular program from congressional Democrats determined to kill it.'

WaPo's Steve Hendrix pens a fun A1 piece on the 'rich tradition of the mighty, or once mighty, intervening in neighborhood squabbles.' Many of the anecdotes, including the galling lede, are suburban, but here's a few highlights from inside the District line: 'Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) lined up against a proposal to pave over old trolley tracks near his Georgetown home....NAACP Chairman Julian Bond appeared at a public meeting to oppose nighttime baseball lights at a park near his house in Chevy Chase....[Outgoing White House Counsel Greg Craig...took time off from work to oppose expansion of an elite preschool in his Cleveland Park neighborhood. "It was intense," said Carrie Chimerine Irvin, who headed the board of the National Child Research Center in 2005 when the two sides agreed on a modified expansion.' And, of course, there's the Klingle Road saga, in which 'the high-profile opponents of bringing back cars included the late NBC anchorman Tim Russert and the late Post columnist Mary McGrory.'

Antonio Caceres, 45, guilty of strangling his 12-year-old stepdaughter Marisol in their Northeast home, has been sentenced to the maximum 24 years in prison, Keith Alexander reports in WaPo. After serving his time, he will be deported to Honduras. 'On July 29, 2008, Marisol's body was found on her living room floor, partially clothed and with a plastic bag over her head, knotted at the base....Even after the guilty plea, questions remained. There was no sign of sexual assault. And Caceres says he has no memory of what happened. So no one knows what caused Caceres to attack the girl he had known since she was an infant and who had showered him with Christmas and Father's Day cards....As family members and Marisol's teacher spoke in court, Caceres never looked up from the floor until one of Marisol's oldest sisters, Sabrina, spoke and held up a poster-size school picture of a smiling Marisol. "I ask you to forgive me," Caceres said. "I can't forgive you," she shouted back to him. "I don't understand how or why I did it," Caceres later told the judge. "I am not a monster."'

The daughter of Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) was reportedly carjacked Wednesday night in Penn Quarter, says WUSA-TV and WJLA-TV/NC8. Julia Corker was 'dragged out of her SUV,' which was subsequently tracked to Suitland, NC8 reports, where 'Prince George's County officers arrested two suspects as the senator and his daughter rushed to the scene.' WUSA-TV says that the assailant 'grabbed her by the throat, and forced her out of the vehicle' and that the arrests were made in Seat Pleasant.

Man shot yesterday evening at Texas Avenue and C Street SE in 'what may have been a botched robbery attempt,' WTTG-TV reports. '[S]ources tell Fox 5 that the victim was shot in the mouth. The gunman took off running and the victim desperately tried to get help.'

WaTimes' Anderson notes that the city is opposing a motion to unseal the fishy sexual abuse lawsuit that has entangled a top DYRS honcho and Clark Ray. 'Last week, lawyer Harry T. Spikes said he recently asked the District to join him in the request to unseal the case filed in September by his client, Kenneth Agee, on behalf of Mr. Agee's 19-year-old son, also named Kenneth...."The public has a right to know, and there is public interest in this case," Mr. Spikes said. "The government's preference is to keep it sealed."' No explanation for the opposition from Peter Nickles; Curt Hansen, attorney for the DYRS exec, is not opposing the motion to unseal, saying, 'We hope to present this case for everyone to know and understand that there's no basis for these false and spurious charges.'

Nickles returns fire at JBG on convention center hotel lawsuit, Jonathan O'Connell reports at WBJ, filing a motion with Superior Court Judge Natalia Combs Greene asking that she reconsider her denial of the city's motion to dismiss. 'Nickles and his team argue that JBG, which sued the city through a subsidiary, lacks standing for such a suit and that the court erred in finding that it has jurisdiction over JBG's claims....How long can the financing package D.C. put together for the deal hold? Through the end of the year? Through the winter?'

ALSO—O'Connell pays a visit to the final days of the city delinquent-property-tax auction. He notes: 'D.C.'s auctioneer the last two years has been none other than Ronald Evans, former chairman of the National Capital Revitalization Corp., who...prides himself on making a sale a minute and likes to get to know the bidders.'

An update on the Vicky Beasley nomination: Dorothy Brizill notes in themail that CM Muriel Bowser 'has now left the hearing open until January 23, in the hope that Beasley can supplement the hearing record with letters of support. As Tuesday's legislative session, Councilmember Mary Cheh introduced a bill that will formalize and detail minimal qualifications for persons appointed to be the Peoples' Counsel. If the bill is adopted, Beasley will be considered unqualified to serve in the job.'

Metro track inspections proceeded yesterday as planned, Kytja Weir reports in Examiner: 'The Tri-State Oversight Committee sent out three crews donned in hard hats and safety vests to walk tracks where maintenance work was being done in tunnels, aboveground and on elevated portions of the 106-mile system. The teams — made up of one committee member, a paid safety consultant and a Metro escort — were looking to confirm that trains slowed down in areas where employees were working and that all were communicating with proper hand signals.' Also WTOP, NC8.

ALSO—WTTG-TV, WJLA-TV cover anticipated Metro fare hikes.

Jay Mathews asks on WaPo blog: 'Would suburban parents send their kids to D.C. schools?' He recounts the story of one 'leader in the national effort to raise the achievement of low-income children' who 'became, to her amused surprise, one of those rare suburban Washington parents who pay tuition to send their children to D.C. public schools.' One of her kids really, really wanted to go to Duke Ellington.

The District ranks last against the 50 states in entrepreneur-friendliness according to survey, WBJ reports. The Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council's ranking was done 'using 36 government-imposed or related measures such as personal income tax rates, individual capital gains taxes, individual and corporate alternative minimum taxes, property taxes, sales, gross receipts and excise taxes, unemployment taxes, electricity costs, health care costs, crime rate, right to work status, minimum wage and gas taxes.' Virginia is No. 10, Maryland No. 37.

NC8 covers Hardy MS drama.

District is among states seeking funding for 'shovel-ready' roads projects, WaPo reports. 'The District requested $114 million to fund 28 projects,' which is more than Virginia requested through the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials.

Pedestrian killed Tuesday on New York Avenue NW is identified as John W. King, 54. He 'apparently lost his balance and fell backwards against a large truck that was traveling eastbound...[King] struck the rear cargo section of the truck before falling to the ground and the truck did not run over him.'

MISSING—Diana Noimi Coronado, 14, last seen Tuesday on the 3100 block of Warder Street NW in Park View. 'Coronado is described as a light-complexioned Latino female with long black hair and brown eyes, 5'5" to 5'6" in height, and weighing approximately 85 to 90 pounds,' NC8 reports.

WAMU-FM covers activist Phil Attey's new Web site, ChurchOuting.org, which aims to 'gather first-hand accounts of closeted gay clergy in the hopes that those priests will come out on their own and help change the church's stance on homosexuality.' ALSO: Will new bishops' mandate mean that patients at Catholic hospitals 'could be forced to stay on life support against their own wishes'?

Meanwhile, in themail, Gary Imhoff decries gay-marriage-aroused 'expressions of bigotry and hatred aimed at religions, especially the Roman Catholic religion, that maintain and wish to live by their traditional doctrine that marriage is between a man and a woman.' He adds: 'Do not believe the reassurance of Councilmember [Harry Thomas Jr.], at Tuesday's legislative session, that religion is not under attack. Councilmember [Tommy Wells]' letter to Senator Durbin [opposing vouchers] is just the opening salvo of the attack.' National Org for Marriage also takes a swipe at Wells.

ALSO—WaPo's Tim Craig did live chat on gay marriage yesterday. And good on We Love D.C. for pointing out that no legislative meeting has been noticed yet for Dec. 15; earliest, then, that gay marriage could get final vote is the 22nd.

Informer covers community college hearing.

GOODBYE MOBILE LOUNGES—Dulles terminal train almost ready to go.

Water main breaks in Foggy Bottom.

Your Metrobus questions answered: WMATA assistant GM Nat Bottigheimer will answer questions online on Friday.

DCist tells you where to get your reusable bags. ALSO: See the official DDOE FAQ.

More backyard chicken coverage!

How much notice should the city give before cutting down street trees? GGW says more. 'The Urban Forestry Administration has to manage many trees with few staff. They can't afford to teach every resident all about arboriculture every time they want to cut or prune a tree. However, it's also understandable that residents will want some communication and assurance about upcoming tree cutting. A tree takes decades to grow. A pruned limb never comes back. UFA needs to find some way to better communicate with residents.'

P.G. DRAMA—State's Attorney Glenn Ivey weighs a challenge to freshman Rep. Donna Edwards.

ALSO AFIELD—WaPo ed board calls on Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon to resign. 'Much has been made of the penny ante nature of the crime, of the overzealousness of the state prosecutor or of the good things she has done as mayor. None of that matters. Ms. Dixon violated the public trust. She stole from children....What she must do now is step down.' And surely you want to know what John Waters thinks of all this. [ALSO: Big LL mea culpa for referring to 'Sharon Dixon' in yesterday's edition. Especially to the former Sharon Pratt Dixon.]

Traffic alert: National Christmas Tree lighting is tonight at 6.

D.C. COUNCIL TODAY—10 a.m.: Committee on Health hearing on B18-481 ('Health Facilities Improvement Act of 2009'), JAWB 500; 11 a.m.: Committee on Finance and Revenue hearing on B18-406 ('Campbell Heights Real Property Tax Exemption Act of 2009'), B18-456 ('Jubilee Housing Residential Rental Project Tax Exemption and Equitable Real Property Tax Relief Amendment Act of 2009'), and B18-490 ('Campbell Heights Residents Project Real Property Tax Exemption Act of 2009'), JAWB 120.

ADRIAN FENTY TODAY—6:45 a.m.: guest, Connecting with the Mayor, WRC-TV; 7:10 a.m.: guest, Fenty on Fox, WTTG-TV; 3:30 p.m.: remarks, Miracle in the Nation's Capital holiday meal program, D.C. Armory, 2001 East Capitol St. SE.

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